Crystal Castles — we are not for you

To shock, to scream louder than every­one else, not to fol­low the estab­lished stand­ards – it’s philo­sophy of most of young bands, becom­ing a neces­sity in the con­text of today’s music industry. Even if it’s said that a band is not try­ing to become pop­u­lar, one can clearly recog­nize des­per­ate attempts to attract atten­tion. It’s some­times dif­fi­cult to say whether spe­cific beha­vior is a res­ult of an aggress­ive char­ac­ter or a typ­ical show off, inten­tional and not worth any atten­tion. Although, in this occa­sion, I first heard the music.

Cold scream­ing elec­tron­ics imme­di­ately let me under­stand that I am not in a very hos­pit­able home. Here, you get only what you are worth with your opin­ion – a cup of cold tea, a bit of not real, syn­thetic pie. Only till you learn how to adapt and to main­tain a con­ver­sa­tion fol­low­ing the rules of the owner.

Canadians Crystal Castles are scan­dal­ists. The duet, con­sist­ing a vocal­ist Alice Glass and a pro­du­cer Ethan Kath, have already man­aged to become known for their live con­certs, in which Alice demon­strates her agil­ity and aggres­sion by diving around the scene and the audi­ence, jump­ing on the drums and in other ways mak­ing music of the duet mean­ing­ful. There had been occa­sion­ing, when she attacked one of their fans in a crowd with a micro­phone, without any reason. When watch­ing her unpre­dict­able beha­vior, we can think that it’s a part of the drastic musical per­form­ance or that it’s a form of an undis­covered ill­ness, but it does not dis­cour­age the fan­atic crowds, crav­ing, in any means pos­sible, to get into another per­form­ance of theirs. She’s the cha­risma of the duet. Maybe a bit crazed fans wrote on the inter­net about her fatal­istic look and beauty, told about the unnam­able happy moments, when, dur­ing a con­cert, they could get even a bit closer to Alice. The youth­ful energy and cour­age attract like bait.

Meanwhile, Ethan usu­ally stands with a hood on his head, dis­tan­cing him­self from the chaos, los­ing him­self in the job that he was given. Chaos and sta­bil­ity. However, it is known that in life Ethan is not a very peace­ful man. As well as the rhythms of the Crystal Castles.

The offi­cial his­tory of the band began in 2004, when Ethan Kath met just 15 year old, at the time, Alice Glass in one con­cert, where she sang with a punk – rock band Fetus Fatale and asked her to sing vocal parts for a couple of his record­ings. After put­ting the record­ings on the inter­net, they got more and more pop­u­lar and song “Alice prac­tice” later became the first Crystal Castles’ single and was released in a vinyl format. Popularity of the band grew prob­ably by the hour — with the first album “Crystal Castles” duet began to per­form in fam­ous fest­ivals bey­ond the bor­der of Canada and to draw con­stantly grow­ing sup­port of the fans and glory by a hand­ful. However, the group’s musical style is not eas­ily describ­able with one word. Basically it’s indie elec­tron­ics, mixed with 8 bit game type sounds’ aes­thet­ics, Alice’s vocal vari­ations from soft voice to scream­ing and a spice of con­tem­por­ary pop and dance floor sound. All of this com­bines into a gross grain por­ridge, remind­ing of some­thing nos­tal­gic and at the same time strik­ing over your taste recept­ors as if it was some­thing ener­giz­ing but not that tasty and eas­ily digested.

However, with their second album, released in 2010 that has the same name as the first one, just with “II” added, the band softened their sound a bit – we won’t find total aggres­sion or altern­at­ive style here any­more or at least there’s way less lo – fi sounds and nos­tal­gia. It’s greatly expressed in cre­ation “Celestica” – a dif­fer­ent mood, a friend­lier sound for the masses and calmly walk­ing Alice, restrained by a neat, black dress, in the video clip. It’s dif­fi­cult to com­pare it to such com­pos­i­tions as “XxzxcuzxMe” from the first album. Did Cystal Castles lose, in part, their cre­ated trail of destruc­tion? Even if, — this way they really found them­selves, by ded­ic­at­ing their soul to dance floors, in which they don’t go and don’t like to go. They don’t even listen do dance music. Instead of that – Joy Division and black metal.

We both hate video games. We were just break­ing apart elec­tron­ics and toys to get annoy­ing sounds.

Even after hav­ing pol­ished their sound, Crystal Castles are not out of ideas. In the song “Year of silence” from their second album we can recog­nize the voice of the lead singer from the band Sigur Rós, taken from the song “Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur” and used as a musical instru­ment. Alice sounds more silent, not so sharp, it seems that she’s not that irre­place­able any­more. The “Not in love” ver­sion with The Cure vocal­ist Robert Smith, received even more atten­tion than the ori­ginal one.

Crystal Castles play angry game not only in music. They bor­rowed the logo of Chanel fash­ion house and turned it into a joke, they also bor­rowed a draw­ing of Madonna, cre­ated by Trevor Brown and without any per­mis­sion, prin­ted it onto Crystal Castles T-​shirts then sold them dur­ing con­certs… They choose rebel­lion. Against what? Against the empty pop­u­lar cul­ture, against spark­ling photo ses­sions, acted out music. Today’s elec­tronic punks. On pur­pose cre­at­ing brain-​grating songs, hid­ing in black hoods and col­or­ing their eyes. Hated by most they are here def­in­itely not to be liked.

Kristina Alijošiūtė
About author:
Kristina Alijošiūtė
Kristina Alijošiūtė is Art Pit’s editor and blogger, also contributing in design solutions. She mostly focuses on quality and freshness of topics, but also values motivated irony and ability to stand out. Writing was always more a pleasure than an obligation to her. She also respects those who are not afraid to write subjectively. Kristina ... Read further >
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